INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — One of the most popular boat-launching ramps at Lake Tahoe will not open this year due to diminishing water levels aided by the continuing Western drought.
The ramp at Sand Harbor a few miles east of Incline Village would normally open for the summer boating season on May 1.
However, with hardly any snowmelt runoff this spring due to a fourth-straight mild winter, that won’t happen in 2015, said Jay Howard, supervisor for Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park.
“We just recently concluded that … there is not enough water to launch at this point, and I see nothing but the lake going down,” Howard said early Tuesday afternoon. “Until we get something to get the lake to come up, (the ramp) will be closed until further notice.”
While low-water years in the past have forced State Parks to close the launch early, it marks the first some since the early ‘90s — the last time Lake Tahoe experienced a drought this bad — that Sand Harbor will miss an entire boating season, Howard said.
READ MORE: Nevada’s Sandoval: We’re ‘way ahead’ of California with drought measures
The other Lake Tahoe boat launch operated by Nevada State Parks, at Cave Rock on the East Shore, should be open throughout the summer boating season, although it will be limited from two lanes to one at some point, Howard said.
“At this point, I expect to get a full season out of Cave Rock,” he said. “But, depending on how much runoff we do see in coming weeks, it’s very likely Cave Rock will be down to a single lane by no later than mid season … it could be sooner.”
Elsewhere around Lake Tahoe, the boat launch at National Avenue in Tahoe Vista isn’t expected to open this year, North Tahoe Public Utility District spokeswoman Tracey Tonwner said Tuesday.
Further, the launch at Coon Street in Kings Beach won’t open in 2015.
READ MORE: Several dredging projects are under way or set to begin soon on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore.
In Tahoe City, the refurbished ramp at Lake Forest will reopen Wednesday, April 15, said Kurt Althof, Grants and Community Information Administrator for the Tahoe City Public Utility District.
“We will continue to operate (the ramp) as long as we can,” he said Tuesday, adding that “it’s possible” the ramp could close this summer. “We just don’t know what the lake is going to do — how much is it going to come up, and how much will it evaporate during the summer.”
The ramp just finished a $1.1 million upgrade to provide larger, 15-foot-wide launching lanes in order to meet California boating and waterways standards and safely handle a high volume of launches and retrievals.
On the West Shore, the ramp at Obexer’s Boat Company will “absolutely” be open this summer, said owner Sarah Obexer.
“We have plenty of water as of now, and I don’t see us having an issue at all,” she said Tuesday.
On the South Shore, the ramp at El Dorado Beach will not open in 2015, South Lake Tahoe Public Information Officer Tracy Franklin confirmed Tuesday.
“We don’t anticipate, even if there is a windfall of snow, it would be high enough to open,” she said, adding that the ramp was only open for about a month last year before closing. “The water is not even anywhere close to the ramp.”
— Look for more to this story, including a breakdown of other Tahoe boat launches, later this week at tahoedailytribune.com.